Carlisle was working for a small
But that has not satisfied some county commissioners, who warned that her presence on the board could create an impression that the aquarium received favorable treatment. The council, made up of local elected officials and representatives from the tourism industry, is an advisory board, but county commissioners typically approve its funding recommendations.
"I think it's a problem, frankly; for me it's about perception and the public trust," Commissioner
Commissioners this week, including Long, granted Carlisle a waiver of ethical conflict, a state provision that allows her to stay on the board even though her employer could directly benefit from its actions. The waiver would preclude her from voting on the aquarium's proposal.
"As Commissioner Long said, there is value in the perception of things. We want the perception to be as pure as possible," Justice said. "My preference would be we don't have a person on the board whose entity is going to get direct funding."
"Jen will have no role in discussion at all, period," he said. "From a
The issue has highlighted a gray area in the law governing board appointees who are required to declare when they have a conflict of interest and to abstain from voting, but are not precluded from participating in any discussion before a vote.
That is a lower standard than for elected officials who must recuse themselves from both, said Jewel White,
With record number of tourists flocking to
By law, the money must go to nonprofits or municipalities for capital projects and events that drive up tourism.
The tourism council reviews funding requests and makes recommendations based on the number of visitors and hotel beds that projects are expected to generate.
That means the board, which includes hoteliers, often recommends funding events such as the St. Petersburg Grand Prix, an indirect benefit of their businesses because it fills hotel rooms.
City leaders, including
She added that the tourism council included members of the
"It is a can of worms, and I don't think we want to go there," Latvala said.
(c)2014 the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.)
Visit the Tampa Tribune (Tampa, Fla.) at www.tampatrib.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services